Tyre Centre Tips – What you need to know about wheel alignment and wheel balancing

Tyre Centre Tips – Reducing the technical to language, we can all understand

When your wheels are badly aligned, you’ll notice poor road handling and your fuel consumption will suffer, too. If you notice any of the tell-tale signs that it’s time to get your wheels aligned, then it’s best to visit the tyre centre sooner rather than later for a host of reasons.

When you take your car to the tyre centre, you should have your wheels aligned. It’s at this time that you might get bamboozled by some of the languages the tyre techs use. So here’s some explanation of what might be wrong and why you need your wheel alignment and wheel balancing regularly.

What is camber, toe, and caster when you get your wheels aligned?

In simple terms there are three elements of a Wheel Alignment. These three elements are camber, toes, and casters.

Here’s what we mean:

1. Camber

If you look at your tyres from the front or back, they should sit at 90 degrees to the road. That way, the wear will be completely even, and your tyres will have maximum contact with the road. When they face inward (with the outer edge of the tyre not touching the road), they are said to be a negative camber. When they face outward (with the inner edge of the tyre not touching the road), they are said to be a positive camber.

2. Toe

The toe is the way in which your tyres face inward or outward if they are viewed from above. If they point in at the front, we’ll tell you that they are ‘toe-in’. If they point out at the front, we’ll say ‘toe-out’.

3. Caster

This is, perhaps, the most technical aspect of having your wheels aligned. A pivot is turned when you turn the steering wheel. If it’s not set correctly, the steering will be either too light or too heavy.

There might also be some suspension damage. When the pivot’s top is pointing towards the front of the car, it is called a negative caster. When it is pointing to the rear, it is called a positive caster.

Getting your wheels aligned correctly will make sure that you get the best out of the driving experience. But when you do have new tyres fitted or have your wheels aligned, you should also benefit from wheel balancing.

What is wheel balancing?

When tyres are manufactured, the weight of rubber is never distributed exactly evenly around the tyre. If your tyre is not balanced correctly when it is fitted, it could cause a number of problems – from vibration to poor steering, to uneven tyre wear.

This uneven weight will be undetectable by hand. The first thing we do when balancing wheels is to place the tyres on the correct rims and inflate them to the right pressure. We’ll then place the wheel on a balancing machine, rotate the tyre at high speed and measure the imbalance. The machine tells us how much weight needs to be added to the wheel, and where to get to perfect balance.

When should you have your wheels aligned and wheels balanced?

If you notice any vibration, pulling, or uneven tyre wear, we’d suggest it’s time to get your alignment and balancing checked at the tyre centre. Other than that, to make sure you’re always on the right side of safe driving and optimal fuel consumption, check that you have your wheels aligned, and balanced every 10,000 to 15,000 kilometres.

If you’d like to know more about tyre maintenance, or get a free qu0te on wheel alignment and wheel balancing, give us a call on 3333 5510.


Pal Prashant

About the Author

Kevin has been at the forefront of the tyre industry for over 20 years. Kevin's speciality is in industrial and commercial tyres including the management and upkeep of fleets. Kevin has worked with vehicles his whole career from painting, mechanical, suspension and panel beating he has also spent time in the Australia Army as a driver. He has driven all size of vehicles throughout his career so understands the demands placed on drivers.